This is a recap of the EOBC that I fished over the weekend and how it all went. Myself, Noel Cashman, Kevin McGowan, Martin McGowan and Brendan Mack, all members of Cork Sea Angling Club, travelled over for the 29th Paul Roggeman European Open Beach Championships. We drove from Cork to Sand la Mere Holiday Park in Tunstall near Hull. The Journey took approximately 14 hours of travelling between stopping for food and some small breaks along the way. Once we arrived we just unpacked and had a chat about tactics for the Flattie bash that was happening Friday morning. The Flattie bash isn’t part of the EOBC but is a warm up match run separately.
Friday Morning was an early start. At 5 am we were up to have some food and off to stand in line for the flattie bash tickets as they are only sold on the day. There is a limited number of tickets so its first come first served. Arriving in Hornsea at the venue at 6am we were about 70 anglers from the front. By 6:30 a big queue had formed with over 300 anglers. Doors open at 7am and fishing starts at 10. Once in, we get Zone B which is the most southerly Zone. Also, because this match is not pegged you must find your own spots. We were told that in front of the clock tower was a good area so we tried to get a spot. Unfortunately everyone else already knew this and the area was full very quickly. We ended up walking 1km to find a spot that was free so that the 5 of us could fish together. We managed a spot in the last groyne. This comp is run with no minimum size and all fish are recorded and released. Once 10am rolled around it wasn’t long before some of the other competitors started pulling in fish. Martin was quick off the mark with a small dab, then Brendan had one, then myself. The baits we used were maddies crab and Black sticky lug but it turned out we came over prepared as most anglers focused on just dab with the sticky lug. We were all trying different techniques, rigs and distances but the guys getting the big numbers of fish were getting fish at distance with lug on clip down rigs and sometimes pulling in three fish at a time. The match ended at 2pm and the results for us were Myself with 3 fish ( 1 dab , 2 flounder), Martin 2 dab and Brendan 1 dab. After this disappointing result we headed for food in Hornsea and back to the accommodation.
Saturday morning, this is where dedicated anglers get separated from the pleasure anglers. After some minimal sleep the alarms went off at 2am. Some very groggy men all emerge from their rooms wondering was this all worth it. We got the frozen bait into the van and off we went. Our destination was Mappleton beach. A mark that has thrown up some big fish in the past. It’s an easy access site with a nice car park and path to the beach with a toilet at the car park too. We arrived, came down and erected our beach shelters and then the waitied. It wasn’t long before more anglers arrived and more until the beach was littered with sleep deprived anglers hoping this was their year. As night gave way to day we started to realise today was not going to be easy. The water was heavily coloured due to the mud cliffs and the waves were touching 4-5 feet in some sets.
As 9am rolled around all anglers got their lines in the water but not for long. Within two minutes all anglers had to reel in as no one expected the current to be as strong. On went 7oz leads but this only slowed the inevitable crossing of lines. It wasn’t long before Brendan had his first bass ever. A fish of 43cm just shy of the minimum 45cm size limit. Within a few more casts Noel managed to wrangle out a small 30cm bass, again not counting to our bag. A few more casts and I had a nice shore rockling but again, this did not count. We fished on. We were using a mixture of baits and rigs to try to find fish but it wasn’t to be.The 3pm cut off arrived and lines were all reeled in . End of the match and a very tough day’s fishing.
We did some driving around to investigate more areas. We were told from a very friendly angler fishing next to us about four areas worth investigating but we were warned that the swell was expected to get bigger tomorrow which would have not helped the already strained leads hold bottom.The areas worth looking at were Aldborough, Cowden, Tunstall and Bridlington. When checking Cowden and Aldborough it was impossible to fish over high water and with the swell so we said we would take a look at Tunstall in the morning as this was just behind the holiday park. We were also told that Bridlington was worth a shot for maybe a ray or some schoolie bass that may be worth targeting to get some fish on the board. So we made the decision was made, if Tunstall wasn’t fishable, let’s move to Bridlington.
Sunday morning and we had a great lie in as we only had to go to the beach behind the park :). Up we rose at 3am, well used to this early morning rising now, we made our way to the beach. We got out of the van, started putting on waders and jackets when we decided to take a look at the water conditions. It was quickly decided we were not fishing here with swells hitting 10 feet. We made the drive to Bridlington south beach. Arriving on the beach it was as if we had moved countries. The water was much clearer with a very small swell. We decided to fish from here for the day. At this stage it was 5am and no other anglers were around. We got nervous as we were not sure if we had made the correct call. It wasn’t long before more anglesr arrived and it meant at least someone was there to sign our cards. We began to bring our gear down to the beach and set up for the last time. There was an angler we met on the beach who fished close to us so we had great banter with him all day. He had friends who ended up fishing further up the beach also so if fish were caught we would hear about them.
9am again rolls around and out goes the baits once again. My tactic for this match was to try for ray and bass. My plan was to switch rigs for each cast. First cast 2 hook clip down with peeler and some fresh lug. It wasn’t long and Kevin ended up hooking a flounder of 34cm, the size limit was 35cm. This was tough. Kevin quickly cast out again and then reeled in a double, with a flounder and dab on the line, both too small to count. While this was happening I made up my next rig, a pennel up and over rig with 3/0 C&R Specimen Extra hooks. This paired with a whole large sandeel and some bluey. I made a comment to Martin to say this was the bait going to get me a ray. I reeled in the untouched previous rig and clipped on this. I wound the rod up and launched it as far as I could. It was out roughly 15 mins when Martin commented he thought he saw a bite on my rod. I hadn’t noticed this so I was reluctant to reel in straight away. I left it longer but nothing else moved. After another ten minutes with no activity I went to reel in but noticed my line had moved left against the expected way of the current . Instantly there was weight on the rod. I commented to the lads that this was weed, but I wondered how I had got weed today with no current in the water. I couldn’t feel any kicks or movement on the rod so I continued to reel in with constant pressure. As the rig was getting closer I noticed something in the wave. I saw the tail of one of my favourite species. The tail of a Thornie was just visible as it was coming in through the small surf.
Game on. Now with the fish unhooked it was placed in a bucket of water to keep it alive. We all were shouting that I had got a fish. WIth a comment from Kevin “ We have a ray”, and we indeed did as today we were also partaking in the team of 4 event so we did have a ray. Now there was a burst of energy with everyone taking the same rig from my rig wallet everyone tried for the elusive ray. I had other anglers coming up to congratulate me for catching a ray. It’s hard to explain but even though I now had a fish I felt the pressure mounting to get another as this could put me in a good position to get higher on the leaderboard. Casting over and over, new baits, new tactics, changing distance and it seemed like the area was a barren wasteland. We heard rumours of other rays being caught on Bridlington north beach so I was feeling a lot of pressure.
With the weigh-ins starting at 3pm we needed to finish up on the beach at 2:30pm to make it back for the 4pm cut off. At this point while caring for the ray in the bucket I had named him Simon so we joked about this while making our way back and asking if Simone needed anything while sitting in the back, We got to the weigh in for 3:40 pm and I wandered down with Simon to see how much he weighed. Tipping the scales at a whopping 2.085kg I was happy. I then was told that no ray had been caught all day and that this was the first one caught all weekend. Some of the organisers then told me that I was in with a very good chance of some money. I couldn’t keep a smile off my face. Some photos with Simon and back in the bucket for the last trip. We got to the beach and got Simon back in the water as he had done all he could at that point.
Some celebrations in the mobile home and off we then went to the highly anticipated awards ceremony. While at the awards we were greeted by other anglers who had heard the news that I had got a ray. This added to the excitement when veterans of the comp congratulate you. It wasn’t long before the leaderboard was displayed and the all important results.
5th place overall, 3rd heaviest fish Sunday 1st overseas angler. This was a great result for my first competition outside of Ireland. The prizes were an AFAW GBFS Pro, AFAW Grand Prix Pro Mk2, £750 and a trophy. It really goes to show that one fish can make the world of difference at the competition. After collecting my prizes we then had a few pints to celebrate and we chatted to other anglers for the night. The next morning we made our way back home and another 14 hours of travel. This competition isn’t for everyone. Its not a relaxing event where you can just sit back and relax or get up late. To place well you need to put in the work but it can all be worth it at the end. WIll I fish it again? You can bet I will. Already booked in for next year to do it all again.
If you’re thinking of doing the comp and have any questions let me know. I’m no expert but I’ve a good idea how it all goes down.